What can you do to save Laman Street? 20.9.2010


While the trees remain people ask what they can do to save them.

A number of people will be going to Laman Street every night this week so drop in. Imprint in your memory the sound of the breeze in the canopy, the night sky and the moon through the branches, the sound of the kookaburra family that lives in one of the trees on the northern side of the street and the grey-headed flying foxes arriving to forage for food. Take a mental (or actual) photo of the spire of St Andrews through the trees and the clock tower of the Town Hall framed by the figs.

 Have a look at the beautiful white trunks of the trees and the little hollows where, it turns out, a microbat lives. And have a sad look at the signs written by children asking council to save our trees and think of their generosity in leaving their fluffy toys wrapped around the trees.

I wonder whether it’s worthwhile letting council and elected councillors know what you think about the plan to turn Laman Street into a desert. What do you have to lose but some of your time?

Perhaps if councillors knew that we understand what a difficult job they have and that we value their making the right decision, not making a decision in a hurry that we could all look back on and regret terribly. Perhaps if they knew that we value our heritage and want them to look after these trees rather than take chainsaws to them. Perhaps if they knew how special we and visitors think this street is they may look at it again. Perhaps if they were made aware that we all think the information that the ‘independent’ arborists made their recommendations on were based on the false belief that trees failed in the 2007 storm when they didn’t.

I think the proportion of the community who would see councillors as weak or vacillating would be miniscule. (There are tree-haters and tree-blind people in every community, the poor darlings.) We would, on the other hand, be extremely grateful that they can see value in reversing a worrying decision.

If the US can leave Iraq, if Gunn’s can stop logging old growth forest, if the South African government could end apartheid, our council can reverse a decision, so tiny in comparison to these historic reversals,  to fell heritage trees that enhance our city, that represent our last beautiful avenue, and that make us proud of our town.

The councillors’ details are available on council’s website. Home


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3 Responses to “What can you do to save Laman Street? 20.9.2010”


    These trees are a beautiful part of Newcastle and remembered by all who have visited this city. When I relocated to Western Australia, one of my memories were these wonderful fig trees. The cut them down when aborists state that they are not dangerous is a crime in itself.

  2. chatty Says:

    Thank you caity, your words bring tears to my eyes and warmth to my grieving heart. Beautifully expressed and so honestly captured……….that’s our Laman Street….people and environment living together in harmony. May it always stay that way!

  3. Jeremy Smillie Says:

    Frank Cordingley
    Director Liveable City
    Newcastle City Council

    Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Dear Frank

    Instability due to previous damage to structural root systems is quoted as a key reason for the removal of the Laman St figs. Here are some council statements;

    1. Laman St: “Managing the Hills Figs in road reserves”

    ”the trees were subject to treatment that would not meet current standard practice. This included…repeated cutting and wounding of their supporting roots.”
    2. And from the Laman St Risk Management page:

    “Tree planting and maintenance practices have changed and past practices are no longer acceptable.”

    I am also aware of what appears to be recent tree root pruning in the Cooks Hill area.

    Photo 1 Hill’s Fig root pruning Swan St Sept 2010
    Photo 2 Plane Tree root pruning Laman St Sept 2010

    1. Could you please explain what appears to be an inconsistency between current practice and council policy.
    2. What other root management techniques does council currently use within street tree ‘root protection zones’?
    3. How will damage to these roots be ameliorated or will they now also need removal?

    Kind Regards

    Jeremy Smillie

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